The New PDFpen 12 Review

Reviews • May 8, 2020

If you’re looking for an efficient PDF editing tool for Mac that won’t put a limit to a number of ways you can edit a document – you’ve probably come across PDFpen.

PDFpen is a very popular PDF editing tool by Smilesoft and it has been recently updated to a new version – PDFpen 12.

Down below, you’ll learn everything there is about PDFpen, its newest version, but also how it could benefit or even change the way you work with PDF documents.

What is PDFpen?

PDFpen is a PDF file reader & editor for Mac computers. As you probably know, there are dozens of tools that can help you find your way around PDF files.

But why is PDFpen so special, you might wonder?

The thing is that every PDF tools differ and not all of them include the same features. Of course, the pricing is also one of the differences.

However, PDFpen is a great competitor of Adobe Reader which is the reason it’s one of the best alternatives you can find out there.

How come?

PDFpen has the ability to handle anything from signing and filling forms to correcting typos, OCRing scans, or even redacting sensitive info.

Whether you are someone who rarely uses PDF format yet needs a quality tool to support your needs – or you’re a heavy PDF user who uses PDF files for work or studying, PDFpen has the ability to cover all your needs.

And down below, you can find all benefits and features you can expect from PDFpen.

Benefits of PDFpen 12

Let’s be honest – Preview tool that’s integrated into the Mac’s operating system isn’t the best option out there.

It’s fine for, well the name says it all – previewing. However, if you’ve ever tried editing anything using Preview – you would have had a hard time figuring things out and eventually getting anything done.

PDFpen 12 is a light software and yet it can help anyone open and create PDF’s, has a simple yet effective editing bar, offers an easier way to edit any type of text, and it even features OCR software.

We really love the benefit of a simple way to annotate documents with only a couple of tools such as highlight, scribble, notes, comments, or simple Text “ToolUse” Tool.

Are you someone who’s always doing work or studying on the go? We believe that you will really enjoy the ability to use PDFpen on iPhone and iPad as well.

We think that you’re ready to learn everything there is about PDFpen 12 features so you can know exactly how PDFpen 12 can help you with your needs. Keep on reading as that’s exactly what you’ll find!

Features you will find in PDFpen 12

PDFpen 12 is a lightweight yet mighty tool – but what exactly will you be able to do with it? The best way to truly understand the capabilities of PDFpen 12 is to test it out for a day – however, features down below are exactly what you can expect.

Open any PDF files

There are several ways to import a file on Prizmo. You can drag and drop files to the interface, open and search your local drives, and even import or shoot pictures from your iPhone — yes, they do have a pretty cool iPhone app that syncs well with your Mac app.

PDFpen is full of powerful editing features, but it wouldn’t be useful to the most average users out there if it couldn’t open any type of PDF files.

Therefore, you can either create a new PDF document from scratch or you can open any existing PDF documents you have saved on your computer to get started.

Probably one of the best things about PDFpen 12 is that you can install PDFpen on an iPhone or iPad and have full capabilities of PDFpen on the go.

Even if you have never used a PDF tool before – you won’t have a hard time opening the existing PDF file. It’s a similar process to opening any type of a document no matter the tool you’re using.

Once you open the PDFpen, it automatically allows you to search through your computer to find a PDF file. If you don’t want to open an existing PDF file – you can simply create a blank PDF file right within the PDFpen tool.

Text editing without limits


PDFpen 12 features a very simple taskbar at the top of the tool which doesn’t take a lot of space yet it groups helpful tools to navigate the PDF document, make any kind of edits, or even save & export the document.

Editing tools allow you to edit text or the whole PDF document in a multidimensional way. Whether you are trying to correct, markup, or copy the text – correct tool for this is a click away in the top taskbar.

Even though PDF files are considered to be graphic files, PDFpen still allows you to edit any object or text as if it was a text document.

Once you get used to the helpful functions and tools available within the taskbar, you would be able to learn shortcuts for each tool you’re frequently using. PDFpen is a fairly efficient tool – but we find that shortcuts improve the workflow and take productivity to another level.

As you can see on the screenshot above, I had all text editing features displayed in a narrow menu within the PDFpen tool. However, if I required any specific text editing feature – heading to ‘Edit’ by using Mac’s taskbar is another convenient way to quickly reach any feature you might not be shown in the PDFpen’s taskbar.

OCR engine


OCR stands for optical character recognition and it’s a software within the PDFpen that allows users to scan PDF documents and make the text in the featuring documents selectable.

This opens the opportunity to edit any PDF file without having to use any other tool to convert it to a text document.

And since PDFpen features a powerful OCR Engine software – if you ever end up needing to edit text in a PDF file, you can sort this “problem” with just two clicks.

As shown on the image above, I was able to clear OCR layer on the page which allowed me to reconstruct the whole PDF document. This means, I was able to move the text around, change page design, move images, or replace & delete anything I wanted.

OCR is something that might take a bit of a learning curve – but once you give the features a try, you’ll find your way around it easily.

Easy document annotation


Who doesn’t annotate their documents when they’re studying or reading dozens or even hundreds of pages, right?

Whether you’d like to highlight words, scribble over the document, or insert notes on specific pages – all of these options are available within PDFpen and they’re just a click away.

PDFpen even features an Callout option to add text box inside the document. There are 5 different ways to annotate your document, and yet all of the tools you’d need are very easy to find in the top taskbar.

We find that annotating a document is very similar to editing the text. You just have a different set of tools you can use and there are absolutely no limits. We’ve scrabbled, underlined, and circled all over the document.

It’s one of the easiest ways to annotate a document, but adding comment boxes, text boxes, or audio annotations isn’t difficult either.

Drawing tools

Drawing tools is one of our favorite features when using PDFpen on an iPad. Using mouse or trackpad isn’t a bad option either, but using a touchscreen is the easiest way to create polygons, rectangles, ellipses, and any other shapes.

Shapes are known for increasing the focus and they can even improve the way we memorize information – and that’s exactly why PDFpen features drawing tools.

Drawing tools were our favorite. There are just so many options you can use to your advantage. If we have used an iPad – we’re sure that drawing would be taken to another level.

However, one thing we especially liked about the drawing tools is the easy two-button shortcut for using each tool which eliminates the use of the taskbar for good.

Efficient export abilities

Not only the PDFpen has a lot of tools that can help you do almost anything inside the PDF document – but it is also pretty convenient when you’re working with other document types.

For instance, we were positively surprised when we tried turning our PDF document into a Word document. All it took is 4 clicks and zero use of other tools.

But we were also amazed by the abilities to re-organize pages, combine two PDFs together, or even search for keywords within the PDF document.

One of the most useful features is PDF file compressions which helps you reduce the size of large PDF files so you can easily send them in the email.

Therefore, we believe that you’ll never end up looking for another tool to help you do anything that’s PDF related.

Just as simple as it was to open any PDF file – saving and exporting your edited PDF document is as simple. With two clicks, you get to choose between available formats. Once you make up your mind – your PDF document will be saved in seconds.

Availability and pricing

PDFpen is available only for Mac OS and you get to choose between the Standard or Pro version.

  • Standard PDFpen version costs $74.95
  • PDFpen Pro version costs $124.95

You will be required to have a Mac OS 10.13 version or higher to get the newest features in the PDFpen 12. The Standard version is also available on Setapp.

Should you go for PDFpenPro version for additional $49?

PDFpen is a very capable software and it seems that it has everything a heavy PDF user would require. But there’s also a Pro version of the same software.

As you can see from the pricing – Pro version costs $49 in addition when compared to the standard version – but is the upgrade worth it?

PDFpenPro includes additional features that could mean a lot to a heavy user.

You get to create powerful forms right within the PDF files, export PDF to more options rather than just export to Word document, have additional control over the PDF permissions, create links from the URL’s, or even create PDF portfolios.

Our favorite feature of PDFpenPro is the ability to turn a website into a PDF document. How cool is that?

While some features might not seem as important for average or regular users, it might be really important for heavy PDF users.

We think that the price tag of the standard version is a bit high for people who rarely use PDF, or even for average PDF users – but the additional $49 price tag to acquire the Pro version might be justified only for the heavy PDF users.

Therefore, we believe that the standard version will be ideal for about 70% of users – but if any of the features we’ve mentioned earlier is a requirement for you, going for the Pro version is recommended.


Investing in a quality PDF tool might seem like an expensive idea, but trust us – dealing with an integrated Preview tool or relying on a free PDF tool might not help you out in the long run.

Whether you’re studying, working, or creating content – PDF is suitable for almost any industry.

PDFpen is an one-time investment which might seem high at first – but once you consider the ease of use and value inside the software, we think that the investment is justified.

After all, PDFpen is one of the best PDF tools for Mac computers – and if that’s exactly what you need to properly manage your PDF documents, the price shouldn’t be an issue, right?

We like how some of the features are really made for users who spend a lot of time working around PDF documents as they can simplify even the smallest actions we do.

* Readers like you help support TheSweetBits. When you buy something through the links in this article, we may get a small commission at no extra charge to you.